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24 Russell Street, Acushnet MA, 02743


In the past few years, public health officials from around the world have begun to alert us to the possibility of a global pandemic involving the so-called Avian Flu.  Like you, I paid little attention to this issue affecting countries far away.  With everything else on our plates who has time to learn about something that may or may not happen.  A few days ago my opinion completely changed.  I attended a seminar at the UMASS Medical School sponsored by the Department of Fire Services.  Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health presented information to fire service officials from around the state.  At the end of the presentation you could hear a pin drop!  The message was simple; it is not a question of if, it is a question of when.

I asked a member of the panel a simple question; what can we in Acushnet be doing in preparation of the flu coming to our area?  The answer was short and sweet; begin to educate the community on what this is all about and what residents can do to protect themselves when the time comes.

With that simple statement as our goal we are dedicating space on our department website to this possible pandemic.  Our first step is to provide the residents of Acushnet with the tools necessary to access information in order for them to gain as much knowledge as possible. 

That being said, the following links will bring you to sites that were recommended by officials at the UMASS conference:

www.who.org:  The World Health Organization provides a list of frequently asked questions regarding a pandemic

www.cdc.gov:  The US Center for Disease Control offers information and other useful links

www.iafc.org:   The International Association of Fire Chiefs has set up this page to provide useful information on steps you can take to limit your exposure to the flu   

www.pandemicflu.gov:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

http://www.mass.gov/dph/cdc/epii/flu/avian_public.htm:  Massachusetts Department of Public Health

In Acushnet, the Emergency Response Team – a group consisting of representatives of public safety, public health, school and town hall officials – meets regularly to plan for emergency incidents.  Our community’s ability to respond to a pandemic is our top priority.  In the weeks to come we will be sharing information on what is being planned, how you can help and what you and your family can expect.

One final note.  A state official at the conference told the audience – mostly comprised of Fire Chiefs much older and experienced then me – that if this pandemic hits it will be the single largest challenge of their career.  That was a sobering statement.  Only by properly preparing can we minimize the impact on our family, friends and neighbors.

Kevin A. Gallagher
Chief of Department


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